iPhone X? Yes or No? It Might Come Down To Which Part Of Your Brain Is Active.

Picture of iphone tenThis week Apple announced the iPhone X. Some of you have decided you are definitely NOT going to buy it, others have decided you definitely are, and others are on the fence. Whether you go for it or not at least partially depends on whether you are making a habit-based decision or a value based decision.

Two parts of the brain for decision-making –– It turns out that there are two different parts of the brain that make decisions. One area is in the basal ganglia, deep in the brain, and is based on habitual responses. The other is in the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) which is behind your forehead. If you are making decisions in the OFC area those are value based decisions.

Habit decisions take over — Research by Christina Gremel shows that if the OFC is quiet, then habit-based decisions take over. If the OFC is busy, though, then the habit area is over-rided. What does this mean? If you are comparing features, thinking logically, reviewing data, then you can’t make a decision based purely on habit. But if you aren’t evaluating which product is best for you, then it is likely your habitual responses will kick in.

Always buy the latest iPhone? — So if you are someone who loves Apple products and you always buy the latest iPhone, then chances are you will buy the iPhone X.  The only thing that might stop you is if your Android-loving friend starts bombarding you with data comparing the new iPhone with his or her Android phone. As soon as you start doing a side-by-side comparison your OFC is engaged, making it impossible to make that quick habit-based decision.

So, which type of decision are you making?

Research citation: Christina M. Gremel, et, al, Endocannabinoid Modulation of Orbitostriatal Circuits Gates Habit Formation. Neuron May 2016.

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